Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Prayer Request 7/9 - 7/15

It is very difficult in China to estimate the size of a church by the size of the congregation on Sunday or the report of the pastor. In urban churches, it is not surprising that the size of the congregation is smaller than the membership of the church because the people lead very busy lives or their children have many activities. We pray that believers will not be merely Sunday Christians but grow in God’s Word and be able to lead their family spiritually. 
For some traditional churches in China, the pastors have observed that church members will attend communion Sunday service as often as possible, even with a busy schedule. It is the tradition of some Chinese churches that one must take communion at the church where one is a member. Church attendance on communion Sunday would likely be the highest and close to the church membership. We pray that all pastors are able to care for their members effectively and meet their spiritual needs.
In rural churches in China, attendance on communion Sunday is also higher because believers who have migrated to nearby towns or cities may intentionally go back to their home villages for communion and reunion, regularly or occasionally in particular during festival times. Once again, we pray for a revival of all rural churches in China and especially give thanks for those who have moved away to cities but still care for and support financially their home churches in the villages.
Universities in China have conducted surveys of households to get information on religious beliefs but under the restrictive environment in China, there is a big concern that people are hesitant to reveal their Christian identity to officials. Being a Christian is certainly not easy in China, especially under the current political climate. We pray for wisdom for all believers and that the Lord will grant them good opportunities and boldness to share their faith with others.
Taking surveys of a church congregation has its limitations in China since there is a lack of lists of members of the churches. People who transfer from other churches, older Christians who often attend church only on holidays, making it difficult to count accurately. However, surveys are useful in reveal the fascinating reality and provide valuable insights in understanding the development of churches. We pray for boldness and a good testimony for all believers, and that they will be Light and Salt in their apartment buildings and in their communities. 
In recent years, there has been a growing trend for local churches in China to join certain denominations, but this is still a relatively small percentage of the churches. In the future, it may be useful to see how denominations grow as part of church growth study nationwide. Being affiliated with a denomination implies a connection with a foreign entity which can present unwanted official scrutiny, especially in the time of increased restrictions. We pray for vibrant growth and sound teaching in all churches.
It has been suggested that young people from different churches in the same Chinese city should gather together and hold some activities, not merely for socializing or match-making, but to give them a sense of community. We ask the Lord to prepare young pastors to shepherd young people, and to raise up more young people who have a better understanding of the Bible. We pray they are willing to influence their peers and even become the little shepherds among them, training them to be bold in sharing the gospel with their peers and even to lead others in fellowship.


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